Time to go on a diet, a negativity diet
It’s been written in many different forms by various philosophers and authors throughout history: Our thoughts and the words we speak create our lives.
Being a voracious reader, I am currently devouring Conscious Living by Gay Hendricks. This is where I got the idea of the “negativity diet.” He cites earlier works from Stoics and various philosophers including William James. Over a hundred years ago James said:
“The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
Do you pay attention to how you and those around you speak and regularly interpret events? We all know Debbie Downers who seem to find a negative spin on almost any situation as well as a few Pollyannas who always see the silver lining.
You can live life as a victim blaming your parents, the weather, your neighbor’s dog, your dentist OR you can choose to take responsibility for your life. I’m not talking about blaming yourself for all of the world’s problems or pretending to be happy when you’re not or suppressing sadness or anger. Expressing my emotions and telling the truth about how I really feel actually creates space for joy in my life. Taking responsibility means coming from a place where you have the power to change things. You are not living life as a victim. You put your energy into what fulfills you versus wasting energy gossiping about others, complaining, researching the latest conspiracy theory, or dwelling on the past. (Ever notice no matter how hard you try, you can’t change the past?)
I know I can be the worst offender. I often think if only I had just moved to Costa Rica to surf instead of gone to Pepperdine, then I wouldn’t have all of these ridiculous student loans. Then I have to remind myself that it’s over and done with (at which point I immediately start singing the Proclaimers song Over and Done With aloud).
Hendricks writes, “As people master responsibility , I notice that they eventually take responsibility for the world itself. They see that they create the world through their actions and their interpretations of the world, and both their actions and their interpretations can be changed.”
The example he uses is how he previously saw the world as a place of scarcity coming from a background where both love and money were scarce. Hendricks made the conscious choice to no longer speak of scarcity.
He went on a negativity diet for a year. He “vowed not to speak of my limitations with regard to anything. I would speak only of possibility , and I would interrupt those who tried to engage me in conversations about victimhood.” Hendricks “made up” a new world for himself where there was plenty of love and money. As you can probably guess, love and money flowed into his life. He writes, “…I live in a different world as a result of changing my interpretations of it.”
So from this day forward I vow not to speak of my limitations. I vow to speak only of possibility. I will not engage in conversations about victimhood.
I know this will take effort on my part and I’ve already noticed how easy it is to think and speak negatively. In times of doubt, I will remember and recite Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley: “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
Who is with me?!
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